The secret to successful account management lies in developing the account, not just selling to it. At the center of that development is account vision.
Unlike hunting and territory management, the success or failure of an account manager is dependent on their ability to grow their account. In some respects account management is similar to running a small business. Success expands well beyond the transactional nature of the sale. The account has to be developed, not just sold to. Selling to an established account as a sales account strategy is short sighted. It results in loosely coupled opportunities, and a reactionary environment where a competitor can quickly take hold. Developing an account requires a deliberate and clinical approach that includes planning, measuring, cadence, strategy, vision and more.
The account vision acts as the compass for your entire strategy and plan. It’s what you are striving for. It is what you want to develop the account into.
The account vision process starts by taking a good solid look at the account. Where are they today? Where do you and your company fit into their overall business strategy? What is the competition doing? How does your company compete currently? What is your current percentage of wallet share? How strategic is your product to their overall business? How many touch-points are there between the two companies? How easy is it to do business together? How often does the account call you for information? Are you seen as a partner or as a vendor?
Ask as many questions as possible. Assess the account in terms of where you are today.
After you’ve compiled all the information ask; where could the account go? What could you develop the account into; that would keep the competition out for years, that would increase sales, that would grow wallet share, that would make it easier to do business together, that would make this account a productive, reliable generator of revenue for your company? Picture it, it’s your vision.
The account vision is what you want to develop the account into.
The vision is less about today and more about tomorrow. It’s a desired end state.
A good vision is easy to explain. A good vision takes into consideration your customers needs as much as your companies. To do 100 million dollars a year out of XYZ account is not a vision. A vision to be XYZ’s first choice for all enterprise communication decisions and to be embedded into XYZ’s 5 year IT strategy, is a stronger vision.
If your sales role is to manage an account, build a vision. Paint a picture of where you want to take the account. Write it down. Take multiple shots at it. Get your customers feedback. If they don’t like it, you’ll never make it. Once you have it, put it in a prominent place. During every account review make sure it is repeated and clear to everyone. Everything you do from here should support getting you to your vision.